Jun 20, 2013

Beverly Hills 90210

Soap operas are traditionally about beautiful people having heart-wrenching problems in affluent surroundings.  Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000) became a huge success by moving the formula to high school (then college, then young adulthood). It had never been done on American tv before, and certainly not with such gossip-page delight, on and off screen.

The premise: Minnesota teens Brandon and Brenda Walsh (Jason Priestly, Shannon Doherty) are transplanted to uber-ritzy Beverly Hills, California, where they become involved with a group of friends and lovers at West Beverly High.  The cast members, and their problems:

1. Brandon (Jason Priestley, top left).  Alcoholism, gambling.
2. Steve (Ian Ziering).  Generally ok.
3. Brenda (Shannon Doherty).  All-around evil.
4. Kelly (Jenny Garth). Drugs, rape, amnesia, another rape, stalked, becomes a murderer.
5. Dylan (Luke Perry, left).  Alcoholism, drugs, Dad in prison, wife murdered.

6. Andrea (Gabrielle Carteris). Generally ok.
7. David (Brian Austin Green, left). Alcoholism, depression.
8. Scott (Douglas Emerson). Abuse, suicide.
9. Donna (Tori Spelling). Drugs, abuse, stalked, attempted rape.

10. Noah (Vincent Young). DUI, girlfriend killed, kidnapped, nearly killed.

Makes Degrassi Junior High look tame.

In addition to the nonstop beefcake, Beverly Hills 90210 offered two same-sex bonds with enough intimacy and emotional intensity to provide gay subtexts:  Brandon and Steve, and David and Scott (left).  David's depression, in fact, was caused by the loss of his friend Scott to suicide.

And there were also a few gay-themed episodes of the "helpful heterosexual" variety: noble heterosexual swoops into help tragic gay victim of homophobia. David Lascher played a gay teen.

Several of the stars have gone on to gay-positive work, notably Jason Priestly and Ian Ziering (who stripped with the Chippendales in the spring of 2013). Most of them have come out in favor of gay marriage.

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